Dear Ellie: How do I stop my husband from contacting his ex-wife from 30 years ago? Why does he keep sending her “happy birthday” messages when they never had children and were only married for six years?
How do I get across my concerns to him that this is hurting me and our marriage?
Are they still in love with each other? Counselling is not helping and I don’t know if I should just walk away.
I sincerely appreciate your trust in my persuasion skills, but we both know that the person you have to ask directly, is your husband.
You apparently haven’t been able to just “stop” him from contacting her, likely because he considers that an intrusive power grab.
But you do deserve an answer. The same goes for his birthday messages keeping their connection going. Though you don’t mention their ever seeing each other in person, feeling “broken-hearted” and wondering whether they’re “still in love,” are signs of your feeling abandoned emotionally, enough to seek counselling.
But there are questions you can answer for yourself: Is there any intimacy between you two? Do you have enjoyable, companionable time together? Do you have any common interests and/or support each other’s most important ones?
If any answers are positive, there’s less reason to think that his link to his ex means he’s attached to her romantically.
But if they’re mostly negative answers — minimal or no lovemaking, separate interests, and with no children or other reasons for being together mentioned — tell him you’re done. Living together like that is a marriage unrealized.
Feedback regarding the young woman tired of being “objectified” (Dec. 22):
Reader: “Being sexually assaulted by a doctor as a teenager is traumatizing. It sets the scene for a lifetime of trust issues. This young woman needs to seek advice and counselling from a sexual assault centre or qualified therapist before she gets any further on a path of relationships in which her radar is always up.
“I speak from 50 years of experience. Assaulted as a young teen by my family doctor, it is only in the last ten years that I’ve taken the steps required to defuse this deeply buried bomb.
“If only I had acted much sooner, I would have lived a different and happier life.”
Reader 2: “I experienced a lifetime of men leering at me and assuming that I was an easy party-girl who was there for the taking because of my large breasts. I’d even say that my bosom was an impediment to my career, as some people had trouble taking me seriously and type-cast me as a “bimbo,” despite my professional demeanour and accomplishments.
“Most were otherwise decent men. It seems that many are hard-wired to react in a primitive sexual way to women who project what they perceive as a sexual image. Society hasn’t helped this, by continuing to objectify curvy women in the media.
“At 59, I had a breast reduction and it changed my life. Breast reduction surgery for health reasons is covered by some medical plans.
“I found that people stopped staring at my breasts and started taking me more seriously. And the health benefits were immense. Sports became easier, neck and back pain eased, bra straps stopped digging grooves into my shoulders, and clothes fit better.
“I sincerely wished I had that surgery when I was the letter-writer’s age of 28, and wonder what my life and career would have looked like.”
Reader’s commentary regarding the man whose wife is estranged from her family because of a crime he committed (Dec. 21):
Reader: “Too often I hear news comments about someone “getting out” after serving one-third of their sentence. They fail to realize that is the law.
“The wife should write her family a strong letter for estranging themselves from her.
“Are they so perfect themselves? Have they NEVER done anything wrong, even potentially criminal, themselves?
“This guy committed a crime, served his time and is obviously extremely remorseful. People do make mistakes, and then learn.”
Reader 2: “He does not elaborate on what he calls his “heinous crime” actually was.
“There are some crimes that are unforgivable, regardless of how much jail time is spent. I’m thinking specifically of sexual assault. If that, he destroyed a life. And if that’s what he did, I fully support his wife’s family in ostracizing him.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
A spouse still connected to his ex of 30-years ago, might soon lose his current wife.
Send relationship questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.